Favorable, good luck, well timed, prosperous and fortunate are all synonyms of auspicious — a word that I personally had never used until moving to India. It’s one of those words I hear frequently now, and have to smile every time. In the Hindu religion and here in India, there is a strong belief that things should be done on “auspicious” days — such as buying a car, purchasing a home, opening a new business and definitely which day you are married. The calendar of holidays in India differs from year to year based on the “auspicious days” selected for those events. How is it determined? Astrology is the most simple answer.
A Vedic Astrology Chart
Hindu Vedic Astrology is fundamentally different from Western and Chinese astrology. The measurement of the Zodiac is one of the main differences. In Vedic astrology the motion of planets is measured with the fixed background of stars. In Western astrology the motion of the planets is measured against the position of the Sun. Some universities here offer advanced degrees in astrology as so much weight is placed upon the ability to read numbers, stars, etc. to gauge the most “auspicious” days and determine which person one should marry. Vedic astrology can be traced back thousands of years. In the early days it was only based on the movement of planets in relation to the stars, but later it added the element of the zodiac signs.
So as the major holiday season of India approaches with Dusshera in October and Diwali in November, there are a number of “auspicious” days and many big purchases happen at this time. Just today in the newspaper there was an ad that reiterated the belief that even choosing the color of your car should be considered in relation to Vedic astrology.
The wedding is one of the greatest events in a person’s life and Indian’s take their Vedic astrology very serious when it comes to determining the person they marry as well as the date the marriage takes place. One woman that I have gotten to know here grew up in America but had Indian parents. She was sent to India to meet some of the men that her father considered were appropriate for her to marry. She told me that her father would consider the birthdate of each candidate because if the man’s birthdate did not align properly with hers, he would not even consider it. She did end up having an arranged marriage here in India, with someone that was “auspicious” and she says she has been fortunate in her marriage. She personally does not believe in it, but she says looking back now (she is probably in her 50s), she says that many of the predicted events did come to fruition. Every Hindu Indian I have met has confirmed that they met with an astrologer before picking their wedding date. An astrologer will determine the groom’s astrological position to the moon and then determine the same for the bride in relation to the sun. The astrologer then gives the couple lucky times and dates for their wedding.
There are a few other customs here that are followed to bring good fortune as well that I wanted to share. The first is the placing of different “charms” around one’s home in order to ward off the evil spirit. As I participated in the pottery village tour last year, the guide pointed out several masks that were placed near every home. At our building, there are several to be found as well around the property. I am not sure if it is the guards, the landlord, or the drivers that place them there but we are well protected.
Babies are also named based on their charts of astrology. During the first year of a baby’s life, there is a custom followed here to ward off the “evil eye.” Parents will place a black dot on the side of the face, or on the forehead. I was told by a local that the parents don’t want people commenting on how beautiful the baby is because they fear it will bring an evil influence to the baby. One Indian woman I have gotten to know that spent most of her life in America told me that even the parents that say they don’t believe in this tradition will still place a black dot behind the baby’s ear “just in case.” Babies also have black bangles placed on their wrists to assist in helping ward off the evil. The black “kajal” that is applied to baby’s eyes has a couple of meanings — first it is believed to give a cooling effect upon the eyes protecting them from the sun’s rays but also to ward off the evil eye.
Another Indian custom, which we all identify with India is the “bindi” a woman wears. This dot has mystical meaning and is only worn by Hindus, thus a physical identifier that the woman is Hindu, although I have met women who are not Hindu that wear it. It represents a third eye of spiritual sight which sees things physical eyes cannot. According to some of the facts I read on bindis, it states that if it is a red bindi it means the woman is married and sometimes those women not married will wear a black bindi to ward off the “evil eye” of course. What I see happening today, though, is that the bindi has become a piece of fashion and the color of the bindi is worn to correlate with what the woman is wearing whether she is married or not. Until researching the bindi I didn’t understand it’s true meaning of being a reminder to use and cultivate this spiritual vision so I am unsure how much this concept is taught and understood.
“Auspicious” days and events are smiled upon by everyone but it is amazing to me how moving to a different culture has brought this word into my vocabulary. I am not one to read horoscopes or have palms read but I am grateful for those moments where I fell fortunate, prosperous and that things were well timed — in other words, auspicious!